USA and plant breeding innovation: USDA will not regulate some genome edited plants

Secretary Perdue Issues USDA Statement on Plant Breeding Innovation. Washington, D.C., March 28, 2018. Press Release No. 0070.18,  Contact: USDA Press, Email: press@oc.usda.gov

Yesterday, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued a statement in favour of Plant Breeding Innovation. In the US, the USDA will not regulate genome-edited plants (obtained, for example, through CRISPR tools), as long as they are not pest plants or developed using plant pests, and as long as the resulting genetic alleles could have been also introduced by any traditional breeding technique. In other words, if the CRISPR-derived allele matches an allele previously existing in nature the resulting genome edited plants will not be regulated by USDA. This decision is expected to favour Plant Breeders and researchers in the field of Plant Breeding innovation and is also expected to expedite the development of numerous genome edited plants resistant to drought and diseases or with increased nutritional value.

In Europe some hints towards a similar direction have been seen last January, with the publication of an Opinion by the EU lawyer of the Court of Justice of the European Union on a recent dispute ongoing in France. However, to date, the European Commission, through the European Food and Safety Authority (EFSA) has not yet issued a final decision on the subject.